hen listening to Denmark’s Choir of Young Believers, it’s hard not to imagine an army of white-clad singers with arms outstretched, their voices raised in holy polyphony—in fact, the Danish group is the brainchild of Jannis Noya Makrigiannis. For years, Jannis moved in the underground circles of the Copenhagen indie scene. In 2006, he moved to the Greek island of Samos and began developing his own solo material. Jannis returned to Copenhagen and, gathering musicians and friends around him, formed Choir of Young Believers, an orchestral-pop project marked by magisterial melodies, dark lyrical concerns, and a healthy dose of cathedral-grade reverb.
The songs on Choir of Young Believers’ 2008 debut album This Is for the White in Your Eyes mixed modest folk arrangements with
ambitious, grandiose indie pop, cooled with a stoic Nordic distance and glowing with an inner light. On their upcoming 2012 album Rhine Gold, Choir expands on their debut in every way. Now a proper band, the collaborative dynamic has imbued their sound with more authority and daring, as Choir inhabits a wholly unique space where intimate folk, classic Krautrock, big-sky Americana, avant-garde composition and bombastic theatricality seamlessly serve the same master.
Live, the band takes many different shapes and sizes. Jannis often performs as a duo with a guitar or a piano and cello; other times, up to eight people fill the stage, playing everything from strings and horns to percussion and bells. The one constant is Jannis’ voice: clear, mournful, stretching to the heavens.